Manager’s programme notes
Posted : 18th February 2023
Today we will face an in-form and confident Carrick Rangers team that will be sure to provide a formidable obstacle and challenge to our aims to secure the vital three points on offer today.
Under manager Stuart King and with experienced pros Jim Ervin, Curtis Allen, Andy Mitchell, David Cushley and the Glendinning brothers in the squad, Carrick have made significant progress this season and they will arrive here today, buoyed by recent wins (2-0 away to Newry and 1-0 at home to Ballymena). They will also take encouragement and belief from their early season 2-1 win against us in Carrickfergus.
We were delighted with our 1-0 home win against Cliftonville last weekend. It was hard-fought and well deserved but unfortunately, we were not able to build upon that encouraging result and came away from the Oval in midweek with a hugely disappointing 3-0 defeat.
We will be looking for a huge response not just in today's game, but in each of our remaining games this season. We are one of six teams fighting for the title in what must be one of the most competitive and wide-open title races in history and while teams will continue to take points off each other over the remaining weeks, we have to aim to collect as many points as we can over the course of our remaining 10 league games.
I was delighted that our inspirational club captain Jamie Mulgrew recently agreed a one-year contract extension and his vast experience will continue to prove of benefit to the squad.
An opportunity recently arose to sign out of contract Northern Ireland international forward, Kyle Lafferty and I was delighted we were able to secure his services on a short-term contract until the end of the season. I believe he can make a significant impact and contribution to our pursuit of honours over the coming weeks. He's highly experienced and his arrival has given a boost to everyone at the club, as we look forward to the challenges ahead.
It was really pleasing to see David Walsh take his first step on the comeback trail in the midweek Swifts' game against Portadown reserves.
Daniel Finlayson, Chris McKee and Eetu Vertainen all missed the midweek game against Glentoran but we are hopeful we will have them available to the squad in the near future.
Andrew Clarke and Robbie McDaid returned to the squad for the midweek game at the Oval and we are hopeful that we will have Jimmy Callacher available again next month.
Niall Quinn returned to the squad for last week's game with Cliftonville and our longer-term absentee Stephen Fallon will remain unavailable for quite some time.
It's been a challenging time for our medical team and I want to thank them for all their efforts, to try and get players back on the pitch, once they are fit and recovered from their injuries.
We know how disappointed our supporters were with the outcome of Tuesday's game at the Oval and as we aim to start to put that right today, we will need your support and positive encouragement, not just today but in each of what are effectively our remaining "11 cup finals".